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Lake Tandou, New South Wales, Australia

Lake Tandou, New South Wales, Australia

Sections of Australia are experiencing their worst drought in 100 years. In the outback of New South Wales, farms along the Darling River have received only 10 inches of rain in the past two years, forcing farmers to sell their livestock and let fields lie fallow. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station documented conditions in Australia last week, including these images of Lake Tandou in the Menindee Lake system along the Darling River.

The Menindee Lakes are part of an innovative water conservation project. Although this lakebed is protected from flooding and is used for agriculture (primarily cotton, sunflower and grains), it is one of several interconnected lakes that sit along the lower Darling River like a string of pearls. Other lakes function as water capture reservoirs to support controlled water flow for environmental and agricultural needs down river, and to provide flood mitigation. The original water management scheme was initiated in 1949. Several recent policies have established sustainable management of the regional water supplies, including caps on water diversions and increased water allocations and flow regimes for environmental conservation ? the region supports a very high biodiversity. The area is also near the center of the aboriginal Baakantji country, as they traveled up and down the Darling River.

Astronaut photographs ISS005-E-21125, 21126, and 21127 were taken November 21, 2002 and are provided by the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory at Johnson Space Center. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA-JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.